Saturday, October 27, 2007

Chak De! India


Some days before, as I was immensely immersed and enjoying the soccer match in She's The Man, a thought strike me. Would Bollywood be capable of creating a film which not just shows the game, but actually make the viewers feel the game. Of course there was Lagaan, but what about a full fledged sports movie? Bollywood can easily breed emotional dramas, but what about one that is an entirely sports-dedicated? Of course, the challenge would be then to make the audience engulfed in the game because the ending is already known and there is no point in watching if the game didn't appear exciting. Then that requires superb script, equally matching cinematography, sensitive direction, skillful acting and brisk stunts - a delicate combination because in such movies what matters most is the pace. If the pace is fast, the scenes can become leery. If the pace is slow, then it becomes a ho-hum.

When I first heard about Chak De! India and what was it about (a coach determined to give the Indian women hockey team the world cup), my first thought was it could be just another flop from Yash Raj Films. Their previous two movies were dud even though their promos succeeded creating the stir. And this one seemed to be like a patriotic one, but Bollywood is notorious for being jingoistic. So my eagerness to see this one was fiddling. But then soon I began to hear all talking about how wonderful this movie was and it did enlighten my curiosity.

So I watched. What I noticed about the movie was its pace. Slow at first, but then gradually increasing. By the beginning of the second half we can already feel the adrenaline rush. The plots were all completely believable and that's what make it special. It is not at all a tale of magic that work wonders. Even though we all know what the ending would be like, we can feel ourselves praying for the win. And that's the result of the successful combination that I mentioned before. We feel the disappointment when they lose, and the vigor when they win.

The character portrayal and development of the players was outstanding. They are all each completely different from the other, have their own ways to deal with the chafes, but had to come together as a team and what made them do it and how they achieve it are all completely convincing. And the movie not just shows a single match, but an array of them and each of them carefully pictured and stands out vivid. A huge applause for that because they not at all appeared to be repetitive, but was able to keep up with the accelerating pace of the movie. I felt like I was in a live stadium because the people around me were all shouting, clapping, cheering... made me relive the time when I went for Lagaan.

You will feel that you are not just a spectator but actually an invisible character in the movie. And when it was over, I was missing them. I was actually missing them! Can you believe that! Chak De! India will awaken your patriotism and you will definitely feel that Indian pride when you walk out from the theatre.

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